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Old Dec 19 2008, 06:49 PM   #1
AnnMarie
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Default SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.
What in the world do leaping lords, French hens,
swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?
This week, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were
not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone
during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.
It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning
plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each
element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality
which the children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol...so pass it on if you wish.'
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Old Dec 19 2008, 07:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

I was sitting here multi-tasking (watching TV news, eating and logging onto the net) when the guy on the local TV station said something about a "twelve days of Christmas givaway". As my mind does, it began to wander and think of all the silly versions of that song I've heard lately which led me to wonder exactly what the twelve days were originally meant to signify. The page loaded and there was this!

Thanks, AnnMarie!
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Old Dec 19 2008, 10:33 PM   #3
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Default Sorry

AnneMarie's preamble didn't quite chime with my memory of uni, where my specialist area was the great Reform Acts of the early 19th century. Sadly a little digging shows this tale to be more recent; it first surfaced on usernet in the early 1990s. In fact, the song is seasonal, but secular - a fun piece of early Victorian memory nonsense. Sorry to pop the bubble

( I always have this image of ten elderly aristocrats in flesh-coloured tights executing a crisp entrechat)!

Last edited by Farclas; Dec 21 2008 at 03:57 AM.
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Old Dec 19 2008, 10:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

AnnMarie...this was very enlightening...and interesting.
Whoever really came up with it, at least put a lot of
thought into it. I like it, but it does remind me of a time
in my youth when a Nun, was droning on trying to teach
me something in my religion class, that I really didn't
want to remember. All the time tapping out the cadence,
with that proverbial ruler, they all seemed to have hidden
behind their backs, just waiting to come in contact with
the errant hand...ouch. Normally mine as I always seemed
to be day dreaming out the window...or drawing on an
equally hidden piece of paper!!!
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Old Dec 20 2008, 08:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

Hmm, why am I not surprised to learn that Farclas?

Although it made a nice tale, something about it didn't ring true. Perhaps because all that was explained were the numbers, nothing about what was chosen to represent each.
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Old Dec 20 2008, 10:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

Well, I got it in an email, and thought it was cute.
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Old Dec 20 2008, 05:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

I like it AnneMarie
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Old Dec 21 2008, 03:51 AM   #8
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Yep, one of those internet tales which, if not true, should be!
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Old Dec 21 2008, 04:44 AM   #9
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

Can be cute without being true
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Old Dec 22 2008, 12:11 AM   #10
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

I don't know if this is true, but I was told that the twelve days are from Christmas day onwards and end a epiphany. Or is that just with the other stuff?
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Old Dec 22 2008, 02:29 AM   #11
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Default Re: SOmething about Christmas You May Not Have known

Yep. being a major feast, Christmas, gets a 'double octave'.

Saints' Days get an octave so that they get a celebration not only on THEIR day but on the Sunday after it as well.
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